Last week we gathered our supplies and got to stitching! If you missed Part 2, you can find it here.
This week we will explore ways to overcome the freemotion learning curve and start quilting successfully.
Taking those first stitches seems like half the battle to learning freemotion quilting. The other half could easily be the next million stitches! Much like underwater hockey and street luging, this sport takes practice. Don’t worry, we are here to encourage you along the way and share ideas to help keep the learning fun.
Below you will find two practice sessions. We invite to give them a try modifying them so they best suit your needs. Please share any additional ideas you have in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Break it Down:
Start with a stack of pieced table runners, placemats, rugs, pillow shams, wall hangings, crib quilts, little quilts, anything that’s not a king size quilt (preferably less than 40″ square). Layer the top with batting and backing then pin baste or use large stitches to secure the layers.
Get in the ditch – When seam allowances are pressed to one side or the other a ditch is created. The ditch is accessed from the top side of the quilt top along the seam. It is specifically the side of the seam without the seam allowances. The needle rides long in the valley where the two fabrics meet.
Jumping ditches – When the seam allowances switch directions along a seam on the back of the quilt, this causes the quilter to jump the ditch to the other side of the seam. This is the reason you start paying a lot more attention to your ironing once you start quilting your own quilts.
Traveling in the ditch – When a quilter wants to get from point A to point B without anyone seeing, what do they do? Yep, they hop in the nearest ditch and stitch along the ditch until they are ready to hop out and quilt in the wide open spaces. The ditch provides a great place to hide traveling stitches.
Now it’s time to play in the ditch. Before you begin, here is a handy checklist.
- Check that the seam allowances are pressed in one direction – the same direction along each seam.
- Identify the seams you want to ditch to stabilize the quilt.
- Identify the seams you want to ditch later to help with traveling from one quilting area to another.
Now you are ready to stitch those ditches! Give it a try.
Once you divide the project into sections with the ditching, you are ready to play.
Take each section and play with a new design. You can quilt each area with a different motif or pattern. You can plan out each like-section with specific designs.
All about the All-Over:
Another great way to practice is to take a simple design, start in the middle of the quilt and repeat the shape randomly going one direction then the another. Continue filling the space with the shape until the entire quilt is complete. Try this process with lots of fun shapes and create your own unique all-over pattern!
Grid it Out:
Love percision? This one is for you. Grab a ruler and mark the top of your entire project with dots indicated the cross section of every 1/2 to 2 inches depending on the scale of the design you want to create. Then practice quilting by filling the grid with a shape. Repeat this shape for the entire grid creating cool designs and secondary designs. This guided practice gives you boundaries and frees you up to be creative.
Check out this great tip from Gina Perkes as she demonstrates grid quilting.
Play with these three practice ideas. In now time you will be quilting that king size quilt like a pro!